Category Archives: Cape Breton

Cape Breton Island posts

Nova Scotia and Antigonish Calendars 2017

This year I created 2 calendars.

The Out and About Nova Scotia Calendar 2017 is in its 5th year.  I love going over my photos from the past year to produce this calendar to enjoy throughout the year.  It has become a family favorite.

This year, I decided to produce an Antigonish Town and County Calendar.  We live in such a beautiful part of Nova Scotia and you may want to share this with your family and friends.

Both calendars are available online.  Click on the link below the photos for details.

Inverness Beach from the Boardwalk

Inverness Beach

Breathing in the salt air and digging my toes into the sand along with the wind and the sun make for a perfect setting to explore Inverness Beach.  The sandy beach stretches for 1.7 KM with views of the coastline up towards the Cabot Trail and back down towards Mabou along the west coast of Cape Breton.   This was a calm day with the waves lapping the shore.  It must be amazing on a stormy day when the waves crash in bringing “Mermaids Tears”- colourful beach glass washed up after years of churning in the ocean to make smooth and multi-colored shapes.

Spend an hour or a day exploring the beach with its pockets of colourful stones, bits of driftwood, sea grasses and dunes.  Swimming, building sand castles, going for a long walk or just sitting and relaxing in the clear air make for a great day.

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A beach boardwalk goes along part of the beach between the dunes and the Cabot Links.  You can watch the golfers on this spectacular course on one side, and views of the ocean on the other.

It’s a fascinating thought that the Cabot Links was built on top of a coal mining area. Along the Inverness Main Street and side streets you can see the company houses built in the early 1900s for the miners.  Stop into the Miner’s Museum housed in the old railway station on Lower Railway Street to learn more about this history.

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Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia – Five Top Experiences

There is so much to enjoy and memories to make all over  the island: hiking, winding roads with spectacular views, small villages, local artists and artisans, history, Celtic music, delicious lobster and seafood chowder, golf, kayaking, fishing, whale watching, beach combing, and heart-stopping beauty of nature.

This article by Denise Davies was published in Travel World International. Summer Issue 2016

And in a digital flip book edition on ISSUU Pages 18-23

 

Alexander Graham-Bell Museum, Baddeck

Baddeck on Cape Breton’s Inland Sea

 

Baddeck Village, on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, is rich with land and sea activities for all ages.

Pick up a picnic lunch at the High Wheeler Café and stroll along the wharf and boardwalk.  There’s a great selection of restaurants in Baddeck where you can enjoy a lobster dinner, local cuisine and be sure to sample the Scottish Oatcakes.   Sip on a Big Spruce beer, a local craft beer produced in Nyanza just 12 km from Baddeck.

Shop for local arts and crafts in the boutiques and gift shops and visit artist studios Michael Keith a painter, Baddeck Yarns, and the Water’s Edge Gallery of Fine Arts and Crafts.

Explore the historic buildings including St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge, Telegraph House, St. Peter’s and St. John’s Anglican Church, Victoria County Court House and the many stately homes along the tree lined streets.

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The Bras d’Or Lake is a large Inland sea connected to the North Atlantic by several natural channels and the St. Peters Lock Canal at the southern tip of the lake. It stretches 100 x 50Km in the centre of Cape Breton Island with a tidal mix of salt and fresh water.  It is a boater’s paradise and a rich environment for wildlife and fishing.  The Bras d’Or Lake is now designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is an area in the world which is deemed to demonstrate a “balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere”.  Visit the special exhibit at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

In 1885 Alexander and Mable Bell fell in love with Baddeck and made it their summer home.  Alexander flew his Silver Dart airplane here above the frozen lake, the first flight in the British Empire.  Explore his many scientific inventions at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  “Discover” activities for children and “White glove tours” of the exhibits, kite flying and experiments are some of the hands on activities at the museum.

Enjoy a sail on the Amoeba schooner and look for bald headed eagles and their nests, view the Bell’s house Beinn Bhreagh, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, the rolling hills and shoreline of the Bras d’Or Lake with its coves and islands and the Spectacle Island bird sanctuary, home of a large cormorant colony.  (June 1 – Oct 15)

In the summer months head over on the ferry to Kidston Island and enjoy the beach, stroll around the island and visit the light house.

For the sports fishing enthusiast there are rainbow trout (steelhead), speckled trout, brown trout, smelt, gaspereaux, cod, flounder, mackerel, herring, lobster, and rock crab. Licenses and guides are available from the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Go hiking to Uisge Bàn Falls, 14.5 Km from Baddeck the trail follows cliff tops along the North River through hardwood forests to a lovely waterfall in a granite gorge.

North River Kayak tours are available for experienced and novice kayakers and have salt-water tours.

Or take in a round of golf at the 18 hole Bell Bay Golf Club with dramatic views.  Enjoy lunch at Alexander’s Dining Room, open to all.

Baddeck is 57 min (87.4 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy from the Canso Causeway.

This article originally appeared in The Casket, July 25, 2016

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

 

Hikers, bikers, snow shoe, cross country ski and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail which runs 94 Km from the Canso Causeway along the west coast of Cape Breton Island to Inverness.

The varied terrain runs along the coast from Port Hastings to Port Hood with spectacular ocean views and on a clear day you can see Prince Edward Island or across the Canso Strait to the mainland of Nova Scotia. At Port Hood the trail heads inland around Mabou, dipping past Lake Ainslie and on to Inverness and back to the ocean.

This is a great year round trail that you can enjoy in every season. The route passes through meadows, farmland, woods and marshes with all the seasonal variety. The trail is built on the bed of old railway tracks so it is relatively level.  It is made up of five linked community trails.

Celtic Shores trail-7917

There is easy access to the trail from Highway 19, the Ceilidh Trail. Well marked signs and parking areas with interpretive signage that describe the history of the area and nearby communities, the industries and people, and how the trail was built. The trail is made up of five linked community trails and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. A detailed map is available at the Visitor Information Centre at the Canso Strait and online.

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In addition to the interpretive signage, the signs for mileage and amenities make it easy for you to find nearby food, accommodations and sights of interest. While you travel the trail take some side trips and enjoy a ceilidh and lunch at the Judique Celtic Music Centre, stop for lunch in Port Hood or Mabou, swim at the many beaches that you find along the way.   In Inverness see the old coal mining company houses, enjoy a meal and watch the golfers at the famous Cabot Links. The boardwalk runs along between the 3 KM sandy beach and the golf course along the dunes.

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For more information

 

 

Cliff coastline at Glace Bay outlook from CB Miners Museum

Glace Bay: A Trip Down Memory Lane

 

I was born in Glace Bay and lived there for my first year. My memories include many years of visiting at my grandmother’s house with lots of music, playing in the big kitchen, great food, picking cranberries and blueberries on the hill behind the house. Saturday afternoons as I got older often my brother and I would walk down Main Street to “the show” at The Savoy. In those days westerns and cartoons would be my favorites. I saw my first grown up movie there at the age of 6 – Carmen Jones with Harry Belefonte.

Of course I heard the stories about the Savoy which was built in the 1920s by my grandfather John Connor. In the early days there were vaudeville shows, the stage was big enough for a boxing match AND the audience, how the long draping curtains on all the walls were sewn by my grandmother, my aunt Annie playing for “the flicks” the talkies and entertainers like the child Sammy Davis Jr. coming to Glace Bay.

It is wonderful to see The Savoy Theatre now. The interior is still in its original Victorian style. Changes to the exterior and renovations to the structure with a new entrance have expanded the lobby space and added an attractive entry. The Savoy is now managed by The Savoy Theatre Society. On my visit a few weeks ago, children were rehearsing for The Little Mermaid. Live shows and plays are regular events that draw people from all over.  The theatre interior looks much as it did when I was a child in the 40s and 50s with its wonderful architecture and feeling of stepping back into a more elegant time.

One thing that has remained the same is the feel of the wind coming up from the harbour to Senator’s Corner.

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Looking at my photos of Glace Bay now, I marvel at the blue sky. This was a coal mine and industrial area of Cape Breton until the 60s. The Sydney coal fields go out miles under the ocean. As you look on the map or drive along the coast the names conjure up the miners in the various collieries: Donkin, Dominion, Caledonia, Reserve Mines, Port Morien, Lingan, New Waterford, Sydney Mines and more. The Colliery Route and the Marconi Trail runs from Glace Bay to Louisbourg and includes the remnants of North America’s first coal mine, circa 1720 (Port Morien).

The Cape Breton Miners Museum in Glace Bay is situated on Quarry Point with a view out into the Atlantic and along the coastline. When looking at the view we can picture the miners working in the coal seams that went for miles out under the ocean – such brave hard working men.   The museum has also built a re-creation of the miners’ homes and the company store. You can find company houses in all the mining towns. My paternal grandfather was a miner and lived in a company house in New Waterford.

According to interpretive signs at the museum “During the 18th century, coal was mined from exposed seams along cliffs from Port Morien to Lingan. The cargo was then transported by boat. The main use for this coal was to fuel the building and operation of Louisbourg, a French fortress established in 1713. During that time the Atlantic Ocean was a bustling highway filled with fishing vessels. As you travel around Cape Breton it is interesting to see how the communities were linked together through coal and fishing.

Unfortunately the museum was not open on my last visit – all the more reason to go back again and continue to explore Cape Breton and its rich history.  I want to go down into the mine at the Miners Museum and visit the Marconi Museum, the Glace Bay Town Hall Museum and of course take in a live show at The Savoy.

This article originally appeared as “Glace Bay: A Trip Down Memory Lane” in the Cape Breton Star, Oct. 30, 2014. Pages 4, 8.

 More Information

Port of Sydney - Big Fiddle, Flavor on the Water

Sydney Cape Breton

Sydney: Then and Now.

Article in The Cape Breton Star. By Denise Davies. Oct 2014

Living in Sydney in the 50s and 60s the steel plant was right in view of our front yard. We could see the billowing clouds of yellow smoke, hear the sound of the shunting coal cars and of course the “yellow snow” and coal dust on everything. At night we could see the clouds lit up and hear the dumpling slag.

The steel plant and the tar ponds are no more — replaced by the Open Hearth Park which hosted an audience of 15,000 for a recent outdoor Aerosmith concert. The park is an amazing open area with winding trails, a wonderful playground including musical instruments as well as play activities, a variety of sports fields and just minutes from downtown Sydney. No one ever thought that the steel plant and tar ponds would be gone. In fact I remember great fighting to keep the mines and the steel plant. It’s amazing to see green areas and recreation in place of industry, with clear skies and places to play and enjoy for all ages.

Audrey Chiasson 1957-2014Then and now photo – 1957 – 2014

Read the full article in the Cape Breton Star http://thechronicleherald.ca/community/cape-breton/1240503-sydney-then-and-now

 Things to do

  • Big Fiddle.  Cruise ships tie up here. Gift shops. Interesting museum on 2nd floor with culture and heritage of Cape Breton.  Flavor on the Water Restaurant.  BIg Fiddle Market,
  • Open Hearth Park.  Amazing restoration of the Steel Plant and Tar Ponds to a recreation area with playgrounds, playing fields, walking trails and greenery.  Open Hearth Park
  • Flavor Restaurants.  Eat out at one or all of the Flavor Restaurants.  Flavor on the Water is on the 2nd floor of the Big Fiddle. Enjoy the versatile Florence Sampson at the piano on Friday nights.  CB Flavor Restaurants,
  • Wentworth Park.  Great place for a walk or run.  Photo from 1928
  • Membertou Heritage Park. Convention Centre, entertainment, restaurant, hotel, shopping, museum.  Membertou
  • Trip Adviser – Things to Do in Sydney
  • Old Sydney Society – museums, lectures and cultural events. Old Sydney
  • Things to do – Port of Sydney

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Side Trips

 Heart of Steel – Video

Fortress of Louisbourg

7 Fun Things to do in Louisbourg

 

 

There is so much to see and enjoy in Louisbourg plan on staying for 2-3 days if possible. Some of these suggestions are seasonal. Please check the website links for details of hours and specifics.

  1. Fortress of Louisbourg

Of course the Fortress of Louisbourg is the main attraction in Louisbourg. Give yourself at least 4-5 hours. There is so much to explore in the various houses and buildings. Talk to the people in their period costumes. You will hear stories and recounting of events and how people lived in 1744. Take one of their mini tours – check on the website or at the desk for what is available on the day you are there. The rebuilt fortress covers a large area so wear good walking shoes and bring your water bottle. Each season of the year has different types of activities. The “shoulder season” in the fall is a great time to visit with fewer crowds and more chance to ask questions. Parks Canada Website – National Historic Site Fortress of Louisbourg http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/visit.aspx

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  1. Hike the Lighthouse Trail

The Louisbourg Lighthouse is the first lighthouse in Canada and the 2nd in all of North America. The trail is in various lengths and winds along the coast with terrific views of cliffs, cormorants, waves and a variety of vegetation and geology. The path is well maintained and just a few ups and downs. There are several hiking trails around Louisbourg https://www.facebook.com/pages/Louisbourg-Lighthouse-Coastal-Trail/573458949340263

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  1. Eat Lobster

The Lobster Kettle restaurant in down town Louisbourg serves a whole lobster in a cute presentation. The lobster is delicious and a lovely setting on the deck overlooking the harbour. There is also inside seating if the weather is not great and other choices on the menu. http://www.lobsterkettle.com/

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  1. Railroad Museum

The Sydney & Louisburg Railway Museum is on your right just as you are driving into town. Learn more about the relationship of the railway and marine trade and transport in 1895 hauling coal. Train buffs will love this and it brings the era to life through models, photos and artifacts. http://www.novascotiarailwayheritage.com/louisbourg.htm

  1. Louisbourg Playhouse

This performing arts center offers a variety of entertainers, musicians, plays. Check for programme details http://louisbourgplayhouse.ca/

  1. Beach trip

This beach is worth the 25 minute drive from Louisbourg along the Marconi Trail. I was really taken with the beach at Main A Dieu – a network of boardwalks through the seagrass and then a beautiful wide and long sandy beach. http://www.whatsgoinon.ca/cape-breton-beach-bum-adventures-main-a-dieu-beach/#.VCHXaRbP_sk

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  1. Historical Dinner – The Beggar’s Banquet

Dine in 18th Century Style with delicious selection of lobster, crab, fish or chicken. This is an experience – not just a dinner. Dining room of Point of View Suites http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/dining/

More Photos

 

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Where to Stay

  • Point of View Suites. Beautiful location right on the coast with a view from the Fortress and across the bay to the Louisbourg Lighthouse. Spacious suites most furnished with a kitchen which makes it easy to stay a while and enjoy the area. http://www.louisbourgpointofview.com/
  • Cranberry Cove Inn. Easy to spot this place with its beautiful cranberry color and heritage house look. http://www.cranberrycoveinn.com
  • RV Park & Campground. On the main street of Louisbourg close to the boardwalk.  http://louisbourg.com/motorhomepark/
  • More Louisbourg accommodations on Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g499217-Louisbourg_Cape_Breton_Island_Nova_Scotia-Vacations.html

More Information (Links)